Is the grammar of 'perch' in the following sentence correct ?

The tower sits perched on a stone structure.

If 'perch' is used as verb in the sentence, should it be as sit perching? Could anyone please kindly help me to figure out sit perched.

  • Perched is a past participle here. Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:12
  • Either "perched" or "perching" is OK for present tense "sits".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:38
  • Yes, it's OK. "Sits" is the matrix verb and the subordinate past-participial clause "perched on a stone structure" is a depictive adjunct in clause structure. Normally the non-finite is not easily omissible, but here we could simply replace it with a locative phrase like "on the top of the hill", or of course "on a stone structure"
    – BillJ
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 14:24
  • There's a difference between the phase structure 'John sat watching the match' where the sitting and watching is cohesive (that's why John was sitting where he was), and 'On the cold bench John sat, watching the match [in a desultory fashion]' where the participle clause tacks on another piece of information. I can't find supporting evidence for this, but it seems to me that 'sits perched' is a similar phase structure with a complex verb phrase rather than a participle clause. Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 14:43
  • @HotLicks While it's grammatical, to me "perching" seems more active than "perched", so it doesn't feel as appropriate to describe an inactive object. "Batman stood perching on the tower, watching over the city".
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


To stand on a footing or lie on a bed might work but sit on a perch is too like sit on a seat or perch on a perch; like record on a record, store in a store or shelve on a shelf.

The grammar would be fine but that's less important there than the vocabulary. Combining sit and perch that way is tautological and I, or one, don't see reinforcement or emphasis as justification. It might not be as glaring as The tower towers over… but it will always be less smooth than jarring.

Either The tower sits on… or The tower is perched on…; possibly even, The tower perches on…

Does a drowning man grasp for a grip on… the proverbial straw? Did that straw break a breach in the camel's back?

Does a vulture sit perched on… a branch or would the bird be better to choose between sitting and perching?

  • 1
    'Sit perched on' and 'sit down on' disambiguate 'sit on'. Commented May 18, 2022 at 18:46

The problem could be the "matrix verb," or maybe just the sentence itself. In any case, stands is better than sits. "Monks from China's Shaolin Temple stand perched on tall wooden boxes." https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/why-the-kungfu-monks-are-losing-their-religion-2353184.html

  • 1
    If you check Google 3-grams for 'sits perched on' & 'stands perched on' you'll see that it appears that most people disagree with your claim that " 'stands' is better than 'sits' ". The same conclusion seems deducible from 3-grams for 'sat/stood perched on'. Commented May 18, 2022 at 16:41
  • Whether monks "stand perched on tall wooden boxes" or "sit perched on tall wooden boxes" depends only on whether their feet or their butts are touching the boxes. One is not better than the other grammatically. And metaphorically, in English you can describe a tower as either standing or sitting. There's no reason you have to use stand. Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 12:19

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